Land condemnation approved; Schlesinger sworn in

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Macon-Bibb County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize condemnation of 11 parcels of property along Level Acres Drive Southwest for road improvements.

Level Acres Drive Southwest is a dirt road not currently maintained by the city-county government, Macon-Bibb County Engineer David Fortson told commissioners earlier Tuesday. The road, which is off Ocmulgee East Boulevard, can’t handle emergency vehicles, which has been an issue for years. But it was hard to tell who owned many of the properties needed, so attorneys recommended condemnation to clear the land titles, he said.

The previous Bibb County government condemned three other spots along the road, Fortson said. All but a couple of the remaining properties are “friendly condemnations,” with no disputes over price, he said. When the road is improved, water lines for fire protection will be added, Fortson said.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas said Tuesday night that she was happy to support the condemnations, which are within her district, because the road work will improve emergency protection for area residents.

Schlesinger sworn in

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Larry Schlesinger was sworn in as District 2 commissioner by State Court Judge William Adams. Schlesinger won a Jan. 14 runoff against Henry Ficklin -- both men are former Macon city councilmen -- for the District 2 seat, following a long and litigious election season.

Schlesinger, a rabbi at Temple Beth Israel, was flanked by his wife and daughter. He took the required oaths with his hand on a Hebrew Bible; then he took his seat among commissioners and cast his votes for the night’s agenda items.

Seal selection

Commissioners voted 9-0 to approve a new Macon-Bibb County official seal, bearing the likeness of a Fort Hawkins blockhouse; the motto “forward together” (in English, rather than the earlier-proposed Latin), and four dates: 1806, for the founding of Fort Hawkins; 1822, the founding of Bibb County; 1823, the incorporation of Macon; and 2014, establishment of the consolidated government.

The new seal was designed by Justin Crum, the new government’s webmaster. Commissioners rejected a design by Mark Strozier, who won a contest sponsored by the government consolidation task force.

Commissioner Al Tillman said he wants the new government to “reach out” and acknowledge Strozier for the historical record, and Mayor Robert Reichert said officials will recognize Strozier’s design as “the basis of this revision.”

Earlier Tuesday, Lucas said she’d like to revisit the seal design after the government has dealt with other pressing issues.

Building cleaning

Reichert thanked contractor Chris R. Sheridan and his employees for pressure-washing the front of the Macon-Bibb County Government Center -- formerly known as City Hall -- over the past weekend. Estimates for cleaning mold and mildew from the building ran above $6,000, but Sheridan said his firm wanted to donate the work.

Sheridan said the company wanted to show employees’ excitement about the new government.

“We just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to clean up City Hall,” he joked.

In other business, commissioners:

• Agreed to retain Davenport & Co. as financial advisers, in the hope of getting the new government’s credit rating upgraded.

• Created an E-911 department to handle emergency service dispatch, since the purely law enforcement portion of that system has been transferred to the sheriff’s office.

• Assented to having Reichert sign annual renewals of alcoholic beverage licenses without commission approval, after those licenses have been vetted by the Bibb County sheriff and other agencies.

• Approved an agreement for Ticketmaster to handle ticket sales at the City Auditorium and Macon Coliseum. The new agreement increases the royalty the government will receive on those sales from 25 to 40 percent, said Mark Butcher, general manager of the Marriott City Center. Noble Interstate LLC, owner of the Marriott, manages the auditorium and coliseum.

• Renewed an agreement with the public defender’s office of the Macon Judicial Circuit to provide defense attorneys for the indigent. Peach and Crawford counties are also parties to the agreement.

• Authorized a renewed agreement with Macon Occupational Medicine LLC to provide drug-testing, work clearance and other clinical services for government employees. This is expanded from the previous city agreement to cover former Bibb County employees.

• Authorized a memorandum of understanding for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service to provide its programs -- health, food safety, education and advice on gardening and landscaping – in Macon-Bibb County.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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